Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Endurance & Politics

Since mid-October [when my last blog was published] I've learned more about endurance than I thought possible.
Now that my chemo treatment has finally been concluded, I have been declared free of cancer and am now on the mend.
While it's good to again have the energy and interest to formulate and share thoughts and perspectives, likely I will become more selective about subject matter.
Anyway, to those who care, I'm back and slowly getting stronger.
And, thanks for your support!

Monday's Herald contained this article:

Last night's County Council meeting produced 2 more applicants, for a total of 25!
That's truly remarkable, considering the appointment is only for one year -actually less.
What is illustrated by this unusual show of interest?

Here's what I think:

• The Council has had a progressive slant for the past 2 years, with 4 of seven members generally sharing similar views.
Now, with 'progressive' Bob Kelly resigning, the balance of power is at stake.

• Several hot issues are pending resolution, not the least of which can be broadly categorized as property rights related.
Zoning and growth management issues always seem contentious, but also lately the 'TEA Party' organizers have succeeded in stirring up political interest, particularly outside of Bellingham, which accounts for about 40% of the County population.
That we are now in the midst of an economic downturn just adds to latent discontent.

This morning's Herald blog published this report, along with the actual voting on each candidate:

That last night's Council meeting produced no majority agreement on any candidate is not so surprising given the level of dysfunction that exists among the 6 Council members who could have made this decision.
That, despite 2 of the candidates included both a current and a recent Council member, neither of which could garner 4 votes!
For a 'non-partisan' elected office, it is regrettable that the Council's non-action leaves this appointment to the County Executive, who says he will wait until the end of the month [year] before deciding.

Talk about endurance! There aren't that many candidates who would willingly endure this type of dysfunction for even one year!
No wonder Kelly decided to leave early, but what does that say about his ability to endure?
He did run for a 4-year term and many people helped him get elected.
Somehow, it doesn't sit right for him to summarily resign after less than 2 years on the job.

In 2006, I seriously considered resigning from the City Council after 3 years of my 4-year term, but decided against it when Mayor Mark beat me to it. So, I know the temptation can be strong, but in the end -barring unusual circumstances- the voting public expects its elected representatives to understand and honor their commitments.
Often that requires a good measure of endurance.

But, there is another kind of endurance that isn't so desirable.
That is the habit of some elected officials to use their incumbency primarily as a vehicle for their own repeated re-election.
You don't have to be a close observer of local politics to know who some of these folks are either.
They are the ones who have a penchant for grandstanding, tooting their own horn and generally avoiding taking courageous stands on important issues.

If you don't believe in the power of incumbency, try to explain why 25 applicants show up for an appointment, while we are lucky to get 2 candidates per office for an election!
The only ways I know to lessen the power of incumbency are term limits, or simply getting more qualified candidates to run for office.
Until one or both of these things happen, we will be forced to endure the dysfunctions of the status quo.